Steam systems in large automobile plants can be one of the biggest end-use energy consumers. Regular review of steam system performance and energy consumption can reveal malfunctions before they lead to wasted energy. This can yield energy savings and production improvements.

Chrysler's St. Louis, Mo., truck and minivan assembly complex found more benefits than expected when it met the first of two objectives by having the U.S. Department of Energy conduct a steam-system assessment at the plant. The second goal was to get plant personnel comfortable with the DOE's suite of steam evaluation software and use it consistently.

The facility optimized the boiler operation and implemented a load-management strategy. Team members lowered flue-gas oxygen content in one boiler, reduced boiler blowdown and implemented an ongoing steam-trap inspection and repair program. The results were:
  • $727,000 annual energy savings.
  • 70,000 MMBTU annual natural gas savings.
  • Two-month simple payback.
After seeing success, Chrysler replicated the methodology at other company plants in the United States.